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The Daily Tar Heel

In today’s paper, on page 12, is a provocative advertisement called “The Wall of Lies,” which responds to 10 assertions about the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. What is this advertisement? How should it be read?

The advertisement is sponsored by David Horowitz, who founded the “Islamo-Fascism Awareness Campaign” and published similar advertisements in other campus newspapers. His “Wall of Lies” is intended to dispel “the lies Palestinians have aimed at Israel with the intention of destroying the Jewish state,” according to his website. At schools like Brown and UCLA, the publication of this advertisement sparked significant controversy and outrage.

The first time we read it, we too were outraged. Beyond our reservations about the way it wields its facts and figures, this advertisement feels personal.

First of all, it registers as an attack not only on Israel’s legitimate enemies, but on all Arabs, all Muslims, all Palestinians and anyone who claims that Palestinians deserve a home of their own.

The advertisement villifies Palestinians because of the actions of certain historical leaders. By this logic, I, Ben, should be burning at the stake for the actions of Judas, and I, Yasmeen, should have sat in the Nuremberg Trials.

Finally, the advertisement is an attempt to incite this campus to division by someone who takes no interest in healthy conversation at UNC about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We see this in the assertion that the Muslim Student Association threatens Israel’s right to exist. The UNC MSA does not take any stance on any political issue in general. Horowitz’s assertion is false, and risks demonizing a community that is already subject to enormous scrutiny.

Notably, the sentiments expressed in this advertisement represent a relatively common fear.

This is a fear that Israel has been made a disproportionate target of attack by those who would seek to delegitimize its right to exist. Israel’s fear of attack was undoubtedly exacerbated last Wednesday when a bus station in Jerusalem was bombed. We cannot help but see this advertisement as a reaction to the inflammatory and often morally outrageous tactics of Israel’s critics.

But also on Wednesday, the Israeli parliament passed two laws that seriously contradict the claim of Israel’s pure moral righteousness. One law punishes state-funded organizations that publicly commemorate the expulsion of Palestinians from Israel at the time of the country’s founding. Another protects the ability of housing communities in certain parts of Israel to deny housing to individuals that do not fit their “socio-cultural” standards. Clearly, the state of Israel is not as much in the moral right as this advertisement makes it out to be.

There is something very attractive about what Horowitz is doing here. This advertisement riles us up. It gives us something to shout about. But the deepest outrage at hatred of Israel on the one hand and criticism of its policies on the other do not have to be exclusive.

We can break from this polarization, from the temptation to speak of the conflict in terms of two sides — one evil and one good.

Ben Elkind and Yasmeen Zamamiri are guest columnists for The Daily Tar Heel. Elkind is a junior philosophy major from Silver Spring, MD. Contact him at elkind@email.unc.edu. Zamamiri is a senior health policy and management major from Greensboro. Contact her at zamamiri@email.unc.edu

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